No. 71
KI Debuts New Fall Lineup

With new associate directors and faculty members added to the Koch Institute roster, the academic year is off to an exciting start!

We're pleased to announce that KI faculty members Darrell Irvine and Matthew Vander Heiden have been named associate directors — joining current Associate Director Jacqueline Lees. Dane Wittrup, who has served as associate director since the Koch Institute's founding in 2007, is stepping down from the leadership team.
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We're also excited to welcome Bradley Pentelute, Associate Professor in the Department of Chemistry, as an extramural faculty member, even as we bid a fond farewell to members Stephen Lippard and Leona Samson in their retirement. Pentelute joins biologists Stefani Spranger and Eliezer Calo as the newest members of the KI faculty fold.
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A Strand-ing Ovation for mRNA Delivery

Weaving together expertise in polymer science and chemical engineering with inspiration from nature, Hammond Lab researchers — as published in Angewandte Chemie — have designed a bioinspired delivery system for messenger RNA (mRNA) that is far more efficient than delivering these strands of genetic material on their own. mRNA holds great promise for treating disease, including cancer, but presents numerous challenges in delivering them to cells for high gene expression. The team's approach, attaching poly-A binding proteins to the mRNA tail and assembling the complex with a polymer, translates into more effective delivery to ribosomes for increased production of desired proteins. This work was supported in part by a Koch Institute Quinquennial Cancer Research Fellowship. Read more.

Rave Tech Reviews for KI Community Members

The September/October issue of MIT Technology Review celebrates the accomplishments of three Koch Institute community members. A powerful feature story about Nancy Hopkins, KI member and MIT professor emerita, reflects on her role as a leading force for gender equity in science, the increased opportunities for women in science and engineering that have emerged at MIT and beyond as a result of her efforts, and the work that is still underway in this area.

Another highlight of the issue is the 2017 list of "35 Innovators Under 35," where you can spot Love Lab alumnus Viktor Adalsteinsson in the "Visionaries" category for his work on liquid biopsies for early cancer detection and monitoring treatment response. And last, but certainly not least, Paula Hammond shines in an alumna profile focused on her career and current work creating nanoscale biomaterials to improve cancer treatments.

Three KI Faculty Members Honored by the NIH

Congratulations to KI members Michael Yaffe, Graham Walker, and Robert Weinberg for receiving National Institutes of Health (NIH) Outstanding Investigator Awards from two NIH institutes. Yaffe, the David H. Koch Professor of Science, and Walker, an American Cancer Society Professor, received their respective awards through the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences; both investigators' work concerns cellular response to DNA damage. Robert Weinberg, a Daniel K. Ludwig Professor for Cancer Research and director of the KI's Ludwig Center for Molecular Oncology, has been given his Outstanding Investigator Award through the National Cancer Institute to further his investigations of metastasis. All three awards aim to support accomplished researchers as they "embark on long-term projects of unusual potential." Read more.

Immune Engineering in the Spotlight

On October 16-17, top biologists, immunologists, physician scientists, and biological, chemical, and materials engineers take the stage at MIT's Kresge Auditorium to discuss the latest trends in immunotherapy research. The new, expanded Immune Engineering Symposium hosted by the Koch Institute explores how best to put these trends into practice against pressing health challenges, including cancer. Hear from leading investigators engaged at the forefront of imunology research and take a deep dive across disciplinary boundaries at this exciting two-day event. Learn more and register now.

More Shots, Please!

... said no child ever. A new technology developed in the Langer Lab and recently described in Science may harbinger an all-in-one vaccine benefitting kids everywhere — especially in the developing world, where healthcare access and patient compliance can be challenging. A team headed by research scientist Ana Jaklenec invented a new 3-D fabrication method that creates microparticles to encapsulate both the initial dose and subsequent boosters of multiple vaccines or drugs. The particles, which resemble a coffee cup with a lid, are designed to break down and "spill" their contents at precise, predictable times. Unlike the extended release drug delivery technologies Langer is known for, these microparticles deliver short bursts of a drug at specific time intervals, to mimic the way a vaccine series is given. Read more or check out additional coverage from Boston Magazine and BBC News.

Ultrasonic Power, Start The Engine!

Langer Lab startup Suono Bio continues to ride the waves of success — this month, the company was selected as one of seven founding startups to receive investment from The Engine, MIT's new "tough-tech" development venture. Co-founded by lab members Carl Schoellhammer and Gio Traverso, along with David H. Koch Institute Professor Robert Langer and Amy Schulman of Polaris Partners, Suono Bio is developing technology to rapidly deliver drugs, proteins, vaccines, and other molecules directly into the gastrointestinal tract using ultrasound waves. The company, led by Schoellhammer as CEO, competed with 500 different startups to receive long-term funding, resources, and services from The Engine's inaugural investment cycle. Read more.

Laura van ‘t Veer to Give Third Annual Lippard Lecture

Join the Koch Institute on Friday, October 27 at 12PM for the Third Annual Judith Ann Lippard Memorial Lecture in Cancer Research — featuring honoree Laura J. van 't Veer, PhD, leader of the Breast Oncology Program and director of Applied Genomics at the UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center. Dr. van 't Veer is one of the world’s leading innovators in cancer diagnostics and is widely recognized as a pioneer in the field of personalized medicine.

The Judith Ann Lippard Memorial Lecture was established in 2014 in memory of Judy Lippard, the wife of Stephen J. Lippard, the Arthur Amos Noyes Professor of Chemistry Emeritus at MIT, to bring together the most innovative minds in women’s cancers. In addition to giving a formal lecture at MIT and delivering Grand Rounds at MGH, Dr. van 't Veer will spend time with trainees, researchers, and physician-scientists at both institutions, inspiring the best and brightest young minds to advance cancer therapies. Learn more.

KI has Xtraordinary Night at 2017 Xconomy Awards

Late breaking news! At last night's Xconomy Awards, an impressive array of Koch Institute and MIT community members took home trophies celebrating their contributions to life sciences and biotech in Boston and beyond. We're thrilled to announce that the Bridge Project — our collaboration with Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center — and Sangeeta Bhatia, KI member and director of the Marble Center for Cancer Nanomedicine, were among the evening's winners for the "Big Idea" and "Innovation at the Intersection" awards, respectively. See the complete list of winners here and keep your eyes peeled for our next issue with full details about the KI's Xconomy Award victors.

The newsletter of the David H. Koch Institute at MIT: providing up-to-date information on next generation cancer solutions coming from MIT and our collaborators across the world.
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